I recently received an email from a fencer who is having trouble using his wrist properly when playing squash. The Lansdowne Club in Central London, where I spent many years as the club squash coach, also has a salle d’armes and I was lucky enough to spend some time down there, as well as having tried Epee many years before.
Badminton players also have similar issues, so I thought I would detail the process I use with players who are using too much wrist or in the wrong way. Ideally, this article would be accompanied by a video as many things are easier to explain when you see them in action, but text will have to do until I can get back on court. Thank you for your patience.
The Difference Between Wrist And Forearm
Although professional squash players do break their wrist and use their wrist, most of the movement is via rotation of the forearm. The reason this is done is that any changes in the wrist means changes in the racket head, which then means changes in either angle or height of the ball ( or both!). Not only that, but it’s easy to injure yourself if you flick the wrist holding a squash racket.
Activity One: Forearm Rotation
So the first activity is to strengthen the rotation motion and get the player used to that idea. Holding a racket on the shaft, rotate the racket, using only your forearm. Play the video below to see the motion explained. Below that is the version that you can do against a wall. Try not to let the racket touch the wall.
Perform the Forearm Twist to strengthen your forearm and consolidate the movement required for a powerful squash shot pic.twitter.com/7WETO63iBw— Phillip Marlowe: BetterSquash (@bettersquash) October 18, 2022
Perform these rotations everyday for at least a month. Improvement will come sooner, but you want to keep using those muscles.
Activity Two: Shadow Swings
You can begin this activity on the same day as the Forearm Rotations, so don’t wait a month! You now want to practice your swing without the ball. if you have to worry about the ball as well as a new style of swing, you will likely compromise the new swing for the sake of making contact with the ball.
The video below explains all the swings I recommend doing. basically, perform the swings with tense muscles and do it slowly. You will be reinforcing the correct swing technique and working your muscles. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Do these every day for a couple of minutes.
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These swings definitely do not need to be performed on a squash court and as long as you won’t hit anything or anybody, do they anywhere: Waiting for the train, in the dentist’s waiting room, in the queue at the supermarket, the choice is yours. OH MY GOODNESS - Yes, of course I'm joking!
Activity Three: Volley Blocks
Now we need to start hitting the ball and I would say to do this after a couple of days of forearm twists and shadow swings, but honestly, feel free to do them all on the same day if you want to. Again, the video below explains everything, but essentially, just try to hit some volleys WITHOUT using your wrist at all. Let you arm dot eh work. Keep the swing short and the wrist firm. You are trying to become accustomed to hitting the ball with a solid wrist.
It’s one of my very first videos, so please be aware the sound isn’t that great – thanks for your forbearance. Do these quite close to the front wall.
Activity Four: The Mini-Block Volley
More or less the same as the volley block above, but this time, get really close to the wall. In fact, let your shoulder touch the wall. This drill absolutely encourages a strong forearm, and any flick will make the racket hit the front wall. The video below contains a few different drills, but for this article, only the first one is relevant.
After spending time performing all the drills above, you should begin to feel much more in control of your wrist. Of course, I can’t guarantee that you will be hitting the ball beautifully, but you should definitely be getting better. Getting better and stronger takes time and in cases like this, you are developing new habits to replace the old ones, so don’t expect miracles within the first week.
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